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Apr 18, 2024  |  
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Jenny Beth Martin


NextImg:Media Elites Don’t Understand Heartland America, And These Chart-Toppers Prove It
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The two surprise pop culture hits of the summer – “Sound of Freedom” (Angel Studios’ action thriller movie about combatting child sex trafficking) and “Try That in a Small Town” (country music star Jason Aldean’s chart-topping song) – show, once again, that the elites who run Big Media still just don’t understand the heartland of America.

On Monday, Aldean’s song hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100, making it Aldean’s first-ever Billboard Number One single with his 40th entry on the chart in a career that saw him first hit the Hot 100 in 2005.

Two weeks ago, the song sold more digital sales in a single week than any country title in more than 10 years.

The song is a paean to small-town virtues and values – after a first verse that lists crimes like assault, carjacking, and armed robbery, then adds lines that speak of spitting at a police officer and stomping on and then burning an American flag, he arrives at the refrain and sings, “Well, try that in a small town/See how far ya make it down the road/Around here, we take care of our own/You cross that line, it won’t take long/For you to find out, I recommend you don’t/Try that in a small town.”

The song was released in May, but it didn’t explode until its accompanying music video was released in July. Filmed primarily at the Maury County Courthouse in downtown Columbia, Tennessee, the music video includes video clips of protests against police, riots, violent crimes, assaults, and arson, and uses the Maury County Courthouse itself as the backdrop for other images projected upon it.

Not surprisingly, critics howled, denouncing the music video for “promoting violence” and “clearly promoting racism.” Moreover, critics pointed out that the site of the filming, the Maury County Courthouse, was itself tainted – a young black man had been lynched there in the 1920s, and a race riot had taken place in Columbia in the 1940s. Country Music Television executives removed the music video from its rotation just three days after its release. Fueled by the controversy, the song went viral.

Aldean had nothing to do with choosing the site of the filming, he said, with backup from the video production company, which also noted that the Disney movie “Hannah Montana: The Movie” had also filmed at the same spot. Aldean pushed back further, saying the song “refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbors, regardless of differences of background or belief. Because they were our neighbors, and that was above any difference.”

“Sound of Freedom,” too, is a success story – and a surprising success, at that, to the studio executives who decided to shelve it for years: After the film was shot in 2018, 20th Century Fox agreed to release the film in 2019, but the film languished on the shelf for years after Disney acquired the studio and its properties and failed to release it. It wasn’t until March of this year that Angel Studios obtained the worldwide distribution rights.

The movie recounts the real-life story of Tim Ballard, who left his position as a special agent at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – tasked with apprehending pedophiles – so he could instead rescue from the scourge of international sex trafficking the kidnapped children on whom pedophiles preyed.

Audiences raved. The movie earned a rare 100 percent score on “Rotten Tomatoes,” indicating that “each professional review recorded by the website is assessed as positive rather than negative.”

Released on July 4th, the small budget ($14 million) independent film has grossed more than its Tom Cruise-starring competitor, “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” with its $290 million budget. And early this week “Sound of Freedom” was projected to surpass $150 million in ticket sales, good enough to rank it in the top 20 films worldwide – even though it hasn’t been released abroad yet.

For those of us who live, work, raise our families, and travel through (not just over) the heartland of America, the appeal – and, consequently, the commercial success – of this movie and this song are readily apparent.

Sadly for those who still rely on Big Media elites to deliver them entertainment, Big Media elites don’t typically live, work, raise their families, or even travel through the heartland of America. They typically travel over the heartland of America, as they fly from coast to coast.

And the result is that all too often, Big Media elites produce movies and songs that are just garbage.

Mark my words – the flaw that prevents Big Media elites from understanding the heartland of America is the same flaw that, on Election Night 2024, is going to leave them staring, unbelieving, at their big screen TVs, asking themselves, “How could this have happened … again?!”

Jenny Beth Martin is Honorary Chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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